HAWAII GROWN REPORT
COURTESY OF UC IRVINE
Randall Tom is majoring in electrical engineering and said he would likely take over his dad's business, Adrian Electronics, when he graduates in 2009.
Hitting it big in the Big West
Chelsea Nagata and Randall Tom are making a splash for the UC Irvine swimming team
Chelsea Nagata and Randall Tom are primed for the Big West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships in the Belmont Plaza pool at Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 21-24.
Aside from contributing to the UC Irvine Anteaters' quest for a conference title, the juniors hope to record qualifying times for the NCAA meets in March.
By The Numbers
Many Hawaii athletes competed in the Northwest Conference swimming championships last week, including Yusuke Kobayashi (Kaiser '06) and Christine Nakamura (Hawaii Baptist '06) for Linfield; Matt Tanigawa (Hawaii Baptist '06) and Shanley Roxburgh (Punahou '03) for Willamette; Katelyn Umetsu (Waimea '05) for Pacific Lutheran; and Koy Collier (Maui '05), Jillian Luis (Kalaheo '05), Amanda Hamilton (Kealakehe '06) and Luana Mayfield (Waipahu '06) for Lewis & Clark.
Women's individual results
» 200 IM: Roxburgh, 14th in 2:35.80.
» 50 free: Collier, third in 25:40; Luis, 10th in 25:90; Mayfield 15th in 26:75.
» 400 IM: Hamilton, fourth in 4:49.34.
» 100 fly: Umetsu, 14th in 1:09.14.
» 200 free: Collier, second in 1:58.85.
» 100 breaststroke: Mayfield, 10th in 1:04.02; Luis, 11th in 1:04.49; Nakamura, 12th in 1:05.71.
» 1,650 free: Nakamura, 11th in 19:44.70.
» 200 back: Hamilton, sixth in 2:13.73; Nakamura, 14th in 2:24.35.
» 100 free: Collier, second in 54.54; Luis, 10th in 57.21; Mayfield, 15th in 58.94.
» 200 fly: Umetsu,11th in 2:30.17.
Men's individual results
» 200 IM: Kobayashi, third in 1:58.98; Tanigawa, 15th in 2:09.21.
» 400 IM: Tanigawa, ninth in 4:45.61.
» 100 fly: Kobayashi, third in 51.82.
» 200 fly: Kobayashi, first in 1:57.75; Tanigawa, eighth in 2:13.52.
Note: Kobayashi also swam the third leg on Linfield's championship 400 and 800 free relay teams.
"Randall is closest to qualifying for the NCAA meet in the 100 fly. He had a 47 (seconds) earlier this year and probably needs to drop another three- or four-tenths (of a second) to qualify," said UCI coach Brian Pajer.
Nagata (Maui '04) earned All-American status, a first for the Anteaters' women's program, in the 100 fly a year ago in the NCAA when she finished seventh. She also competed in the 100 backstroke (34th) and the 50 freestyle (42nd).
"Things are going well. My times are faster in season, better than the past two years," said Nagata, whose events are the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke. "The 100 fly is probably my strongest event, then the back and free."
Tom (Seabury Hall '04) finished second in the 100 and 200 fly and was third in the 200 individual medley at last year's BWC championships. He also was on three winning relay teams, earning All-Big West honors in six events.
"Randall has a great feel for the water and is a great competitor. He is one of the most versatile athletes we've ever had at UCI," Pajer said. "His breaststroke has improved since last year. He is solid in back and free and that bodes well for him in the IM. He is like having a wild card that can fill any role."
Nagata was offered a scholarship by Washington, San Diego, UCI and Hawaii. She visited all the schools and actually received a better offer from UW, where her older sister, Kristen, swam for the Huskies, but chose the Anteaters.
"I thought the swimming program would be a better fit for me in terms of the amount of training and intensity. I thought it would be a little less than the other schools," Nagata said. "I didn't want to do morning practices and Irvine didn't practice in the morning.
"Then they changed the year I came in and I had to adjust to it. My body has gotten used to waking up early."
The Anteaters practice for 2 hours starting at 6:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and in the afternoon Tuesdays and Thursdays with an hour in the pool and an hour in the weight room.
Nagata learned to swim at age 4 and started competing a year later. She also played soccer, a sport she really liked, for a couple of years, but a broken arm at age 12 ended her career on the pitch.
By the time she was a junior in high school, Nagata was enjoying swimming and relishing the competition.
"I would get excited about reaching the goals I had set for myself," Nagata said.
"When I got to college, it was a lot harder. My goal was to make it through each practice. It was a lot of hard work, but it has paid off."
Tom also considered UW, UH and Pacific, but did not make up his mind to sign with UCI until June of his senior year.
"It was a hard decision for me and my family. It came down to UW and Irvine. The weather was a factor and I liked the coaches and the team," Tom said. "It seemed like a safe area to live in. I think it was a good decision."
COURTESY OF UC IRVINE
Chelsea Nagata competes in the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke events but said, "The 100 fly is probably my strongest event, then the back and free."
The swimmers who beat Tom in the individual events at last year's BWC championships all went to the NCAA meet and they are all back this year.
"It should be close this year. It will be really challenging," Tom said. "I'm right on the edge now. If I make an NCAA 'A' time, I'm in. Right now I have 'B' times. I think when I go out in a good suit and shaved and tapered (when training eases off and he is well rested before the BWC meet), then you can give your top performance.
"During the whole season we don't shave and look raggedy, then we are clean cut for the conference meet."
Pajer is confident Nagata will do well at the BWC meet, where she won four events a year ago.
"Chelsea is really talented and up on her training the last two months. I think she will stand up and do very well at the Big West meet," Pajer said.
"When it really comes time to step up, Chelsea seems to be able to take her swimming to the next level. She needs the big stage to race well. Her dolphin kicks are her strength and she comes off the wall well on turns."
Tom learned to swim at the old Wailuku Pool because his parents said if he wanted to live in Hawaii he had to learn how to swim. He began racing youngsters in his class and discovered he was pretty fast.
He joined the Maui Swim Club, where coach Spencer Shiraishi worked on his form and helped him focus on swimming.
Tom is majoring in electrical engineering and is scheduled to graduate in June 2009. He plans to continue in school and get a masters of business administration.
"Eventually I would like to take over my dad's business (Adrian Electronics)," Tom said.
Nagata is majoring in psychology and social behavior and will graduate in June 2008. She plans to continue in graduate school and work toward a Ph.D. in psychology.
"I'm thinking about doing research and becoming a professor at a university," Nagata said.